Many popular Czech recipes are heavily influenced by other cuisines, and beef goulash is one of them. This humble dish began with Hungarian cowherds who cooked any cattle that died in a simple stew made by browning meat in onions and lard. Coarsely ground red chilies were as black pepper substitutes — and beef goulash came to be, named after “gulyás,” which means herdsmen in Hungarian. It has since then become a staple recipe in many Czech restaurants, pubs, and homes. While there is no right or wrong way to prepare beef goulash, there are a few key elements to keep in mind.
Start by cutting up the beef into large chunks, and then set it aside. Mix the flour, salt, and black pepper together in a deeper bowl. Toss the beef chunks into the flour mix and coat evenly. Then, heat a frying pan with some oil on medium-high heat and fry the beef on all sides until golden brown. It’s best to use a multipurpose non-stick pan with some depth to prepare this recipe and still be used for the usual fried foods like eggs and meats.
Remove the beef from the pan. In the same pan, place the chopped onions in and fry until translucent. Season them with the caraway seeds before adding the chili and marjoram. Add the garlic during this stage as well. After a few minutes, place the beef back into the frying pan along with the beef stock cube and about half a liter of hot water. Add the tomato puree and stir until incorporated, then bring the heat down to medium-low and cover with a lid to let it simmer for about two hours.
There are different variations of this famous dish depending on which country you’re in. In Germany, butter is an essential ingredient in the stew. It is also served with spaetzle. The Russian variety favors the addition of more onions and carrots to make the dish even heartier. What defines the Hungarian variety is the use of paprika, which elevated the flavor profile to leave a more memorable taste and feel on the palate.
There are so many ways that one can serve beef goulash. Some may choose to have it with traditional Czech dumplings or with thickly cut sourdough bread, which is excellent for dipping in the stew. Others may even have it with rice, which can easily be prepared in a rice cooker while preparing the dish on the stove. This is an excellent combination and a delicious to enjoy a stew aside from the usual bread. We also recommend trying something like Russian Salad as an appetizer. The contrast between the salad’s freshness and the meaty, hearty flavor of the soup will give the meal balance and leave you feeling satisfied.
Whether you choose to enjoy your beef goulash the Czech way, Hungarian style, or with your own twist, it’s sure to be a filling and delicious meal. At Taco and Tiramisu, we show every recipe's story, and goulash is thanks to the humble herdsmen that cooked up a memorable dish from humble beginnings.
Czech Beef Goulash
- 3.25 pounds beef cuts
- 2 large onions
- 4 cloves minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups beef stock
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili or marjoram
- 5 tablespoons flour
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2-3 tbsp oil
- Cut the beef into large chunks and set aside.
- Mix the flour, salt, and black pepper together in a deep bowl. Toss the beef chunks into the flour mix and coat evenly.
- Heat a frying pan (non-stick or a skillet) with some oil on medium-high heat. Fry the beef on all sides until golden brown. The best is to work in portions to avoid overcrowding the pan.
- Remove the beef from the pan into a large plate or a bowl.
- In the same pan, place the chopped onions. Add some more oil and sauté until translucent.
- Season them with the spices and the garlic.
- Stir for few more minutes and transfer all ingredients into a big pot. Add the beef stock cube and about half a liter (2,5 cups) of hot water. Add the tomato puree and stir until incorporated.
- Bring the heat down to medium-low and cover with a lid to let it simmer for about two hours.